Maccabi suffered until halftime, but rallied to avoid a rare second consecutive loss when it topped Cibona 83-74 at home in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Maccabi trailed 26-41 late in the first half but still managed to escape and improve its Group B record to 2-1. Cibona dropped to 1-2 despite leading much of the game. Will Solomon and Jamie Arnold led the winners with 20 points apiece. Arnold shined when it was required, as Yaniv Green was sidelined for this game and center Maceo Baston played just 6 minutes due to an injury. Anthony Parker had 17 points and 8 rebounds while Derrick Sharp had 13 for Maccabi, including a pair of big three-pointers during a decisive 12-0 run in the fourth quarter. Scoonie Penn led Cibona with 25 points, Damir Markota added 13 on 3 of 3 three-pointers, Bennett Davison posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds while Davor Kus also had 10 points for the guests.
Cibona came out strong on both ends of the court, ripping off a 0-9 run to start the game as Bennett Davison, Scoonie Penn and Mate Skelin strung together layups that Davor Marcelic punctuated with a three-pointer. Maccabi, meanwhile, missed its first 8 shots before Jamie Arnold, starting in place of the injured Maceo Baston, put in the hosts' first basket almost 5 minutes into the action. Arnold remained the hot hand, scoring on each of the next two possessions, as Maccabi got back into the game. By the time Vujcic and Will Solomon joined him, Maccabi was within 11-13. But Cibona didn't falter, and with Davison playing big inside, the guests managed to remain ahead 13-17 after 10 minutes while keeping Maccabi to a season-low amount of points for a quarter.
Maccabi didn't look any better starting the second quarter, as Parker missed a dunk and a wide-open three-pointer. Cibona couldn't take advantage, however, as Penn missed a layup. Parker then buried his next triple to bring Maccabi within 16-17, but Cibona was just getting started. Davor Kus and Damir Markota both answered from downtown as Cibona rebuilt its lead to 19-25. At the midway point of the period – after another Markota triple – Cibona led 21-31. The lead continued to grow, with Davison swatting a Vujcic shot in the paint and Kus finishing an uncontested layup at the other end. Penn then took over with his own triple and a penetration move to silence Maccabi's crowd with a 24-37 scoreboard. Maccabi's shots continued to bounce out, and reserve Sharon Shason committed a quick pair of fouls whose free throws Markota used to make it 26-41. A Parker slam brought the crowd back into it, late, but Cibona still held an 11-point advantage, 32-43, at halftime.
Maccabi looked better starting the second half, scoring on the first three possessions, and seeing Baston climb off the bench for the first time all night. After Arnold rattled in a three-pointer to cut the difference to 41-45, Cibona seemed a bit rattled. Penn lost the ball to Solomon and Davison was whistled for a unsportsmanlike foul as he stopped the break. Those free throws were followed by a big Baston block on Penn and Burstein's first bucket of the night, tying it 45-45 after 24 minutes. Penn kept his team in it with a three-pointer, but a pair of turnovers hurt the visitors. Maccabi seized its first lead all night at 49-48 on a Parker bank shot. Markota drove the lane and then buried a three-pointer to regain Cibona's momentum and prove to Maccabi that his team was ready for a fight. A few free throws later, Cibona ended the third quarter with a 53-56 lead.
Strong Cibona defense and Penn's leadership and shooting pushed Maccabi to the wall. But Cibona paid a price for aggressiveness, soon committing enough fouls to put Maccabi in the penalty after just 3 minutes. Parker converted a three-point play, and Solomon took advantage of Marcelic's turnover to drive and tie 62-62. After Kus missed a three-pointer, Derrick Sharp made one, and Maccabi began to pull away. Cibona still battled for every ball, but Maccabi refused to let Penn shoot and his teammates had trouble finding the hole with the game on the line. Sharp drilled another triple and Maccabi had its biggest lead, 69-62, with 4:30 to go. After a timeout, Penn found room to shoot and nailed a clutch shot from deep, but Solomon answered seconds later. Damir Rancic came up with his first points of the night, also from downtown, but after a Parker free throw, Kus turned the ball over and Solomon came up with another huge jumper to stretch the Maccabi lead to 8 points. Cibona started to foul and it nearly worked as Vujcic missed a pair of free throws, but Burstein and Solomon didn't and Maccabi held on for an 83-74 win.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Eran Sela, Tel Aviv